The Sad and Sorry Tale of the Surprise Hiatus

Hello again wonderful readers!

Before we jump straight back into our usual schedule as though nothing happened, I think I should explain my long hiatus. Some of my friends who follow this blog have asked why I haven’t updated it recently, and I’ve given vague responses like “I’ve been busy” (which is true), but there’s… more. I think it’s time to tell you the long and sorry tale of The Surprise Hiatus. 

My friend’s dog at Te Mata peak in New Zealand

A lot has happened since the last blog post… an awful thing and some really amazing things. I’ll separate them into headers because if you want to skip one it’ll be easier to find the next one 🙂 

But before we get going, I want to say that I did start writing the next post, I just didn’t finish it. But the end of the Writing Romance series will come! (One day :’))

1. I was busy

More specifically, the time I usually dedicate to writing blog posts needed to be spent elsewhere. From memory (it was such a long time ago 😅) the first time-thief was The Author Conservatory. 

Yup, I started another course. 

I’ve been a part of the Young Writers Workshop (I still feel like there should be an apostrophe in there somewhere? One like = one apostrophe XD) and idk I just can’t say no to Brett Harris and somehow now I’m starting Author on top of uni, work, a musical and this blog. I guess this blog sort of fell out along the way and I forgot to pick it up. 

I always knew that as soon as I missed one post, it’d be really hard to start the routine again. Guys, writing these posts is really hard work. I’m always busy, and this often gets squeezed in around everything else (sometimes last minute), so I knew that if I cut myself slack one week, it’d take a lot of will power to start it up again. And that’s exactly what happened. Well done, past me, you were right 🙂 

I kept writing emails for a bit and then that too dropped off (which came slightly later). But the real nail in the coffin was number 2. 

Content warning: suicide

2. Some uni-related trauma happened

I was at uni one afternoon, and my parents had an appointment near my uni, so we’d all decided to go out for lunch. I still think it’s crazy we were all there when it happened. Any other day, it would have been just me on my own. 

We were walking back to the car, crossing the road, when a man committed suicide nearby.

I’ve been debating for weeks whether to share this, because it’s really hard to write about and I don’t know who’s going to read this and how it will affect them. I’m conscious of this because there are books, films and articles that I can’t stomach anymore because they remind me of this.

It feels self-centred to write about my reaction to it, but I have no other information to give about the man or his family. And I won’t go into detail about what happened. 

But the rest of the semester was really difficult for me and my family. I stopped taking the train to uni and drove instead, so I wouldn’t have to walk past the place where it happened. Every day I had to decide whether I could work on that ever-increasing mountain of work, or whether I should cut myself some slack and just take the day off. 

My teachers were really kind, and I was offered extensions and special consideration, no questions asked. But in the end, I didn’t take it. I was sorely tempted to, but I decided to bite the bullet and get the homework over with rather than have it drag out. And often doing the work helped me feel better.

I didn’t tell many people what happened. If you’re a close friend of mine and this is the first you’re hearing about it, I’m sorry. Please don’t be offended–I’m only just starting to be able to talk about it out loud. Plus, it would have been awful for something like that to hang over our time together, which is often so brief and sparse. 

Thankfully, I’m much better now. I watched Zootopia chunk-by-chunk over the weeks following, spoke to a great post-suicide counsellor and went on a holiday with some friends overseas. Some friends helped by talking through it, some by distracting me. It was a day-by-day, case-by-case, slow progression of healing.

Some days are really hard, but those are becoming few and far between. I can take the train and walk to uni now, which is, economically, better than driving. And I don’t think about it as often anymore, which is good. For a while, I thought trauma would become part of me, something I’d never get through. But I think it’s safe to say I’m through it now. Which is a real blessing ❤ 

But in the midst of all of that, I stopped thinking about this blog. Finishing schoolwork on time was hard enough; let alone mustering the creativity and energy to write posts. I’m glad I took the pressure off myself, because I needed the time to process and heal before trying to write again. If I’d tried to write on a public forum while feeling hurt, I might have hurt others and myself more

3. The musical! 

(Back to a happy note!) This could come under “I got busy” but chronologically I think this happened afterwards. After the uni semester, I went to New Zealand to see some friends and enjoy a much-needed holiday. And when I got back it was time to smash through a musical! 

I’ve been working on The Piper’s Mountain with writer Evangelyn Hill for about a year now, and the show was performed in Minnesota last weekend! But during my uni holidays, I had to orchestrate two to three songs a week… which would have made me balk a year ago XD. 

What possibly helped me really get down to it was my work schedule. I’ve been working at a cafe for almost a year, and a lot of staff left around the same time as my holidays started. They weren’t happy when I said I could only work four days a week, but it was all I’d give. After all, I’m only part time–and I have other work to do–composing! 

So (with Sunday as my Sabbath) I had two days to get through my two songs: one per day. 

I honestly didn’t believe I had it in me. I’d been praying that God would somehow help me get the musical done on time, and assumed it would mean a few all-nighters, but He gave me some Divine Creative Gatorade (or red cordial? XD) and pushed me through those last few weeks, where two songs became three songs a week, plus revisions on earlier ones… that was intense. 

But it all came together, on time, which is fantastic! And the thing I’m so stoked about is that I didn’t have to say “no” to Evangelyn when she asked for song edits. There were some songs I said “I’ll get to it if I have time…” and I did have time! Yay! 

Now that it’s over, we’ll be working on editing the recording of the show, and I’ll put my attention back to my final semester at uni. Some of my really exciting projects this semester include: 

  • A live-performed song about the Changi Piano 
  • A soundtrack for a circus performance
  • A score for a short animation and film 
  • Some atonal stuff for theory idk XD 

I’ll really try to get back into a routine now that that’s all over. And thanks for your patience! If you’re reading this after my months of hiatus, I’m really grateful for you for sticking around and checking in every so often. It’s such a privilege to hear that you’re still checking the blog, eager to read what I’ve written. See you in two weeks? 😀 

So what have I missed? What have you been up to while I’ve been away? 

(PS – if you’ve been troubled or concerned by what I’ve brought up in this post, please reach out to a local mental health supporter such as (in Australia) or (in the US), (to find one in your country) and/or talk to a friend you trust to listen and help. Stay safe xx) 

Published by Debbie Coll

I'm a storyteller, songwriter and author who loves God, fairy tales and music. I write about tales, creative tips and process on my blog,

2 thoughts on “The Sad and Sorry Tale of the Surprise Hiatus

  1. Welcome back, Debbie! It doesn’t matter why you were gone, as long as you keep finding your way back to blogging and writing. That’s when you know this craft is for you. Wishing you great fun on your return!


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